The text of the following statement was issued jointly by the Heads of Mission of Canada, Denmark, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict
Today, 19 June, the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, we call on all parties to the conflict to stop immediately using sexual violence as a tactic of war, which is happening on an appalling scale in South Sudan, and with impunity.
The use of sexual violence as a tactic of war is totally abhorrent, and sadly continues today unabated. We are shocked by the recent rape and gang-rape of over one hundred women and girls, some as young as four years-old, according to a number of reports. We condemn in the strongest terms these heinous acts and support the UN’s call for the immediate end to attacks against civilians.1
While today we express our solidarity with the survivors of conflict-related sexual violence, we also recall the ongoing plight of the many civilians affected by violence in South Sudan. We are horrified by brutal attacks around Leer and Mayendit in Unity State, as well as in Equatoria. Since the start of 2018, and despite the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA) and ongoing peace process, we have witnessed the deliberate targeting and killing of civilians, including children, disabled people and the elderly; with some civilians being burned alive in their homes; abductions and mass displacement of populations; and attacks on medical and humanitarian personnel and facilities.
We call on all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law and the COHA, and to condemn all forms of sexual and gender-based violence. We call on leaders to ensure that their forces and supporters do not engage in this appalling violence. Both commanders and individuals responsible for attacks on civilians, including sexual and gender-based violence, must be held accountable, and victims must receive justice.